The harm that feminism has done 7

When a whole whimper of western women sex-changed into feminists – starting in the 1960s – they did not give up dependency, they simply switched from being dependent on a husband to being dependent on the state.

It was a bad move. It is generally far easier to negotiate for your wants with a single person whose life and comfort is bound up with your own, than with an indifferent bureaucracy.

Feminism is a Leftist movement – the ideology or faith of the Left being the belief that government, like a god who commands all the resources of the world and can forever pluck more out of the infinite, must and will supply your every need: cradle you, coddle you, teach you, care for you, shelter and protect you, and so give you joy.

The model American “woomin” in this dreary long age of Obama, is a fictitious feminist named Julia. Julia Government is her married name. Her channel of communication with her remote, powerful, immaterial spouse is gov dot com. She signals her needs to him, and he responds with grants and services throughout her life.

She has a child with his indirect assistance. She does not have to stay at home to care for it as women used to do. Government raises and educates it in the Faith. And to keep her occupied and in pocket, Government grants her a little business of her own – not too lucrative, nothing that would make an obscene private-sector type profit!

Generations of children have now grown up nurtured in the cold bosom of the state. Each generation is smaller than the last. “Wimmin” don’t see the point of having them, actually. And Government provides almost free contraception. And Planned Parenthood provides cheap abortions. So let the human species dwindle. It’s bad for the planet anyway.

And besides – life, the feminists say, is not all it’s cracked up to be.

So why don’t you try going back to the old ways, wimmin? Share a marriage bed with a person? Bear more children, raise them, teach them, enjoy making them happy and letting them make you happy?

No, no!, the feminists reply, we would be housebound. We would have to give the best years of our lives to changing diapers, and cooking, and putting clothes in washing machines!

Instead of?

Instead of what we’re doing now.

Which is?

Copulating with anyone we want when we want; accusing men of rape whether they’ve done it or not; having the occasional abortion; running a little business on a grant; or working for our master, the Government. You know – all that.

No downside to all that?

Well, (the wimmin tell us, deeply resenting our hostile questioning), even if being married to the state has its drawbacks, at least (they say, singing in their chains like the sea) – at least we’re free!

*

It profits me but little, after all, that a vigilant authority always protects the tranquility of my pleasures and constantly averts all dangers from my path, without my care or concern, if this same authority is the absolute master of my liberty and my life. – Alexis de Tocqueville

Bruce Thornton quotes that wise saying in an article at Front Page, from which we extract these points:

California recently passed a law requiring that sexual encounters between students in universities and colleges can proceed only on the basis of “affirmative, conscious and voluntary agreement”. Failure to resist or to ask the partner to stop the encounter can no longer be taken as consent. Institutions that wish to receive state funds or financial aid must adhere to this standard when investigating charges of “sexual assault”, a phrase redefined to include behaviors once considered boorish or insensitive, but not legally actionable. The California law follows on the 2011 Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights’s “dear colleague” letter that instructed schools investigating sexual assault complaints to use the “more likely than not” or “preponderance of the evidence” standard of evidence rather than the “clear and convincing” one.

The dangers to individual privacy and accountability that follow such regulatory intrusions into sexual intimacy between legal adults have been well documented, not the least being the violation of the rights of the accused, who now enter a hearing with a presumption of guilt rather than of innocence. Also problematic is the double standard inherent in such rules, particularly when both accuser and accused are drunk or otherwise incapacitated. …

The feminists’ championing of sexual autonomy for women reached a head in the 1960s. Before the modern age, sex was seen as a necessary but dangerous force that, if left uncontrolled, not just impaired the mind, but also destroyed whole civilizations. It was the illicit sexual passion of Paris and Helen that “burnt the topless towers” of Troy, as Christopher Marlow wrote. As such, sex had to be contained and channeled by social practices and cultural institutions. Virtues, taboos, and especially marriage all attempted to direct sexual energy to its most socially important goal, procreation and the family. …

By the late nineteenth century, many social and cultural developments had undermined this traditional sexual realism. Over the following decades, in the work of Richard von Krafft-Ebing, Sigmund Freud, Margaret Mead, Alfred Kinsey, Masters and Johnson, Norman O. Brown, Herbert Marcuse, and numerous others, sex was [regarded as] a natural phenomenon that science could understand and hence make more enjoyable and less damaging. The destructive effects of sex, in this view, were not inherent, but the consequence of repressive social institutions …

In the sixties, Cultural Marxism interpreted traditional limits on sexual behavior as the instruments of oppression and conformity, reinforcing the “false consciousness” that perpetuated the ruling class and its power.

Breaking sexual taboos and experiencing sexual pleasure thus became acts of liberation, leading to self-fulfillment and personal freedom.

Feminism embraced this notion of sexual liberation. The autonomy of women depended on their casting off the shackles of patriarchal misogyny most evident in male control of women’s sexuality – “our bodies, ourselves” became the battle cry. Women should have the equal power to choose sexual experiences and pleasure, and the unjust double standards that gave men but not women sexual autonomy should be discarded. The biological differences between men and women, especially nature’s subjection of women’s bodies to the relentless imperatives of procreation, were now discarded as arbitrary, unjust impediments to women’s freedom and autonomy. This process was moved along by the new technologies of reliable birth control and accessible and safe abortion.

In the ensuing decades, however, the malign consequences of sexual liberation became increasingly manifest – the proliferation of sexually transmitted diseases, the wider access to demeaning pornography, and the explosion of out-of-wedlock childbirth and the attendant social dysfunctions that follow from children being raised without fathers.

Even for more privileged women, there were psychological costs to be paid for contending with male sexual predators and absolving them of responsibility for their behavior, given that now men and women were equally in control of their sexual choices, and that the traditional mores once enshrining male responsibility, such as chivalry, had been dismissed as patronizing and sexist.

But as the years passed, many women began to discover that there are indeed differences between men and women and their experiences of sex. Liberation did not lead to the sexual utopia of carefree and cost-free pleasure, but to the guilt, regret, and humiliation that follow being used as an object for somebody else’s transient enjoyment.

The response to these ill effects was to create rules and codes designed to eliminate the negative consequences of sexual freedom. But contrary to the assumptions of lawmakers who want to regulate sexual behavior, sex is not a game like tennis that can be pleasurable for the players provided the rules are followed. As Camille Paglia has pointed out, when it comes to sex, the more appropriate metaphor is to the old Roman arena, where there was no law. An act that is so physically and psychologically complicated, and that exposes our most intimate longings and hidden selves, cannot be rationalized and made cost-free, or its unpleasant effects neutralized, by reducing it to a “voluntary agreement” in which the terms and conditions are spelled out and followed as in a contract. …

Faced with the costs of sexual liberation, [feminists chose] to demand that the state use its coercive power to protect women not just from insensitive men, but from the consequences of their own choices. Sexual harassment law is the most widespread expression of this impulse to use the tutelary state to defend women from a “hostile and intimidating” environment. The vulgar joke or boorish innuendo is now not just a violation of social decorum, but a crime subject to law and punishment.

But nothing infantilizes women more than the sexual codes promulgated by numerous universities. Obviously, sexual assault properly defined is a crime that should be investigated and the guilty punished. But getting drunk and then sleeping with an equally intoxicated partner is not a crime. It’s a learning experience about taking responsibility for one’s actions, and practicing the virtues of prudence and self-control. …

At the same time that feminists still call for unlimited sexual freedom, they treat women as Victorian maidens who lack agency and resources of character, and thus must be defended against sexual cads and bounders. As the Manhattan Institute’s Heather Mac Donald puts it, this “new order is a bizarre hybrid of liberationist and traditionalist values. It carefully preserves the prerogative of no-strings-attached sex while cabining it with legalistic caveats that allow females to revert at will to a stance of offended virtue.”

This strange demand for absolute freedom without responsibility for one’s choices is not just a symptom of feminism. It reaches into our broader culture. It has become the enabler of the entitlement state, which justifies its growing size and regulatory power over people’s lives by promising to protect them not just from the vicissitudes of life, but from the consequences of their own choices … Thus the feminist demand for government-subsidized birth control and abortion is of a piece with government bailouts for homeowners who over-borrowed on the equity of their homes or lied on their mortgage applications.

The demand for personal freedom without accountability contradicts the foundational philosophy of our republic. The right to liberty is not the right be absolved from the consequences of one’s actions. Taking that responsibility is what makes one worthy of freedom and equal to others who likewise must be accountable for their actions.

The disguised tyranny of infantilization 10

In order to work, the dependency agenda needs not only to cultivate … a population of dependents. It also needs to foster a population of controlling bureaucrats, … warders of the system. And this brings us to … “the real entitlement mentality that threatens to bankrupt the nation: A political class that feels entitled to rule over the rest of us.”

So Roger Kimball writes at PJ Media:

Republicans … are often heard grumbling about the “entitlement mentality.” I sing in that chorus myself. Usually, the song dilates on the growing habit of dependency and appetite for … “goodies provided by the government and financed by taxpayers.”  …

It is a corollary of that “psychological change” in a people that Friedrich von Hayek diagnosed in The Road to Serfdom: a transformation from the practice of autonomy and self-reliance to the habit of dependency. It was, Hayek noted, both a regular result and precondition of “extensive government control.” Cause and effect fed upon and abetted each other. It was … a textbook case of what Tocqueville described in his famous paragraphs on “democratic despotism.”

How would despotism come to a modern democracy? Tocqueville asked. Not through the imposition of old-fashioned tyranny. No, that instrument is too blunt, too crude for modern democratic regimes. Much more effective is the disguised tyranny of infantilization. Turn government into the sole provider of all those “goodies” and you enslave the population far more effectively than an old-style tyranny ever managed. …

Entitlements are bait on the hook  of totalitarianism. Don’t take it.

What the state gives the state can withhold. Don’t depend on it.

The state should be neither a nanny nor a sugar-daddy. It should do only what it alone can do – protect our liberty.

Easing into tyranny 2

Mark Steyn writes in The New Criterion:

Paul A. Rahe’s new book … is called Soft Despotism, Democracy’s Drift, which nicely captures how soothing and beguiling the process is. Today, the animating principles of the American idea are entirely absent from public discourse. To the new Administration, American exceptionalism means an exceptional effort to harness an exceptionally big government in the cause of exceptionally massive spending…

The professor opens his study with a famous passage from M. de Tocqueville. Or, rather, it would be famous were he still widely read. For he knows us far better than we know him: “I would like to imagine with what new traits despotism could be produced in the world,” he wrote the best part of two centuries ago. He and his family had been on the sharp end of France’s violent convulsions, but he considered that, to a democratic republic, there were slyer seductions:

I see an innumerable crowd of like and equal men who revolve on themselves without repose, procuring the small and vulgar pleasures with which they fill their souls.

He didn’t foresee “Dancing with the Stars” or “American Idol” but, details aside, that’s pretty much on the money. He continues:

Over these is elevated an immense, tutelary power, which takes sole charge of assuring their enjoyment and of watching over their fate. It is absolute, attentive to detail, regular, provident, and gentle. It would resemble the paternal power if, like that power, it had as its object to prepare men for manhood, but it seeks, to the contrary, to keep them irrevocably fixed in childhood … it provides for their security, foresees and supplies their needs, guides them in their principal affairs…

The sovereign extends its arms about the society as a whole; it covers its surface with a network of petty regulations—complicated, minute, and uniform—through which even the most original minds and the most vigorous souls know not how to make their way… it does not break wills; it softens them, bends them, and directs them; rarely does it force one to act, but it constantly opposes itself to one’s acting on one’s own … it does not tyrannize, it gets in the way: it curtails, it enervates, it extinguishes, it stupefies, and finally reduces each nation to being nothing more than a herd of timid and industrious animals, of which the government is the shepherd.

Welcome to the twenty-first century.

“It does not tyrannize, it gets in the way.” The all-pervasive micro-regulatory state “enervates,” but nicely, gradually, so after a while you don’t even notice. And in exchange for liberty it offers security: the “right” to health care; the “right” to housing; the “right” to a job—although who needs that once you’ve got all the others? The proposed European Constitution extends the laundry list: the constitutional right to clean water and environmental protection. Every right you could ever want, except the right to be free from undue intrusions by the state. M. Giscard d’Estaing, the former French president and chairman of the European constitutional convention, told me at the time that he had bought a copy of the U.S. Constitution at a bookstore in Washington and carried it around with him in his pocket. Try doing that with his Euro-constitution, and you’ll be walking with a limp after ten minutes and calling for a sedan chair after twenty: As Professor Rahe notes, it’s 450 pages long. And, when your “constitution” is that big, imagine how swollen the attendant bureaucracy and regulation is. The author points out that, in France, “80 per cent of the legislation passed by the National Assembly in Paris originates in Brussels”—that is, at the European Union’s civil service. Who drafts it? Who approves it? Who do you call to complain? Who do you run against and in what election? And where do you go to escape it? Not to the next town, not to the next county, not to the next country.

Now not even to the United States of America. He goes on:

Tocqueville’s great insight—that what prevents the “state popular” from declining into a “state despotic” is the strength of the intermediary institutions between the sovereign and the individual. The French revolution abolished everything and subordinated all institutions to the rule of central authority. The New World was more fortunate: “The principle and lifeblood of American liberty” was, according to Tocqueville, municipal independence. “With the state government, they had limited contact; with the national government, they had almost none,” writes Professor Rahe:

In New England, their world was the township; in the South, it was the county; and elsewhere it was one or the other or both… . Self-government was the liberty that they had fought the War of Independence to retain, and this was a liberty that in considerable measure Americans in the age of Andrew Jackson still enjoyed.

For Tocqueville, this is a critical distinction between America and the faux republics of his own continent. “It is in the township that the strengths of free peoples resides,” he wrote. “Municipal institutions are for liberty what primary schools are for science; they place it within reach of the people.” In America, democracy is supposed to be a participatory sport not a spectator one: In Europe, every five years you put an X on a piece of paper and subsequently discover which of the party candidates on the list at central office has been delegated to represent you in fast-tracking all those E.U.micro-regulations through the rubber-stamp legislature. By contrast, American democracy is a game to be played, not watched: You go to Town Meeting, you denounce the School Board budget, you vote to close a road, you run for cemetery commissioner.

Does that distinction still hold? As Professor Rahe argues, in the twentieth century the intermediary institutions were belatedly hacked away—not just self-government at town, county, and state level, but other independent outposts: church, family, civic associations. Today, very little stands between the individual and the sovereign, which is why schoolgirls in Dillon, South Carolina think it entirely normal to beseech Good King Barack the Hopeychanger to do something about classroom maintenance.

I say “Good King Barack,” but truly that does an injustice to ye medieval tyrants of yore. As Tocqueville wrote: “There was a time in Europe in which the law, as well as the consent of the people, clothed kings with a power almost without limits. But almost never did it happen that they made use of it.” His Majesty was an absolute tyrant—in theory. But in practice he was in his palace hundreds of miles away. A pantalooned emissary might come prancing into your dooryard once every half-decade and give you a hard time, but for the most part you got on with your life relatively undisturbed. “The details of social life and of individual existence ordinarily escaped his control,” wrote Tocqueville. But what would happen if administrative capability were to evolve to make it possible “to subject all of his subjects to the details of a uniform set of regulations”?

That moment has now arrived. And administrative despotism turns out to be very popular: Why, we need more standardized rules, from coast to coast—and on to the next coast. After all, if Europe can harmonize every trivial imposition on the citizen, why can’t the world?

Would it even be possible to hold the American revolution today? The Boston Tea Party? Imagine if George III had been able to sit in his palace across the ocean, look at the security-camera footage, press a button, and freeze the bank accounts of everyone there. Oh, well, we won’t be needing another revolt, will we? But the consequence of funding the metastasization of government through the confiscation of the fruits of the citizen’s labor is the remorseless shriveling of liberty…

But it seems like the way to bet. When President Bush used to promote the notion of democracy in the Muslim world, there was a line he liked to fall back on: “Freedom is the desire of every human heart.” Are you quite sure? It’s doubtful whether that’s actually the case in Gaza and Waziristan, but we know for absolute certain that it’s not in Paris and Stockholm, London and Toronto, Buffalo and New Orleans. The story of the Western world since 1945 is that, invited to choose between freedom and government “security,” large numbers of people vote to dump freedom every time—the freedom to make their own decisions about health care, education, property rights, and eventually (as we already see in Europe, Canada, American campuses, and the disgusting U.N. Human Rights Council) what you’re permitted to say and think…

When something goes wrong, a European demands to know what the government’s going to do about it. An American does it himself. Or he used to—in the Jacksonian America a farsighted Frenchman understood so well. “Human dignity,” writes Professor Rahe, “is bound up with taking responsibility for conducting one’s own affairs.” When the state annexes that responsibility, the citizenry are indeed mere sheep to the government shepherd. Paul Rahe concludes his brisk and trenchant examination of republican “staying power” with specific proposals to reclaim state and local power from Washington, and with a choice: “We can be what once we were, or we can settle for a gradual, gentle descent into servitude.” I wish I were more sanguine about how that vote would go.